Monday, March 17, 2008

Kierkegaard on Publishers

From Communication
That there should be publishers, men whose very existence expresses the fact that books are wares and authors tradesmen, is thoroughly immoral. In so far as money enters into an intellectual relationship (such as being an author), if a man is paid, receives royalties, etc., then the one who constitutes the intellectual relationship should also constitute the financial relationship, take over the finance, not by any means for the sake of a possibly great financial gain, far from it, but in order that some sense of shame should enter into it. If the financial relationship is such that it is the source of revenue of another person, it easily becomes insolent. There are plenty of examples of the insolence of publishers; the insolence consists in treating the productions of the mind unreservedly and to the very last as wares. In that way the public get financial control of the publisher, and the publisher again financial control of the author, and so perhaps an author (who ought to be as chaste and modest about money as a girl about the sale of her virtue) is made to blush and feel ashamed, but without the power to break away.
—Søren Kierkegaard, from an 1846 journal entry, translated by Alexander Dru (Oxford University Press, 1938, 155)